The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland has called for more government supports for Mayo’s 376 pubs, following the publication of a report which found 80 per cent of tourists ranked the Irish pub experience as a top reason to visit here.
The report, by Tony Foley, an economist at DCU Business School, focuses on the contribution of the drinks industry to tourism.
It outlined that there is a substantial drinks sector in Mayo, including 376 pubs, 45 hotel bars, nine fully licensed restaurants, and 60 wine only licensed restaurants.
According to the Support Your Local campaign, which is being promoted by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland, as well as rating the Irish pub experience very highly, 83 per cent of tourists also listed ‘listening to Irish music in a pub’ as their number one activity while holidaying here.
The number of overseas tourists visiting the west in 2013 stood at almost 1.2 million and overseas tourism expenditure was €379 million.
Report author Mr Foley said the economic role of tourism is substantial and the hospitality and drinks industry will contribute to ambitious tourism growth targets.
“Recent improved tourism performance has contributed to the economic recovery,” he outlined. “The 2014 Government draft tourism policy includes very ambitious growth targets for tourism to increase the take to €5 billion in real terms compared to the level of €3.3 billion in 2013. Hospitality and drinks industry support will contribute to the realisation of the ambitious tourism growth targets.”
Bart Storan, campaign manager for Support Your Local, said the drinks industry can only contribute to tourism revenue growth if it is supported appropriately.
“Punitive excise increases in the last two budgets have created an unsustainable position for the industry,” he said. “Pubs are closing and the small businesses that make up the industry are struggling to stay afloat.
“Excise is a tax on tourism. Increasing tax on alcohol, including excise duty, does not address misuse of the product, it simply harms our tourism offering.
“Failte Ireland research cites that the price of alcohol, which is the highest in Europe, is one of the main contributors as to why tourists would not visit Ireland again - second only to the weather.
“Do we really want to give tourists another reason not to visit again? We would urge the Government to support tourism and support your local.